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The concept of using hydropower has been around for years and was generally considered only viable in areas where the need for power was close to the potential source. One of the most popular uses of hydropower is in generating electricity with the most famous in the United States being at Niagara Falls and Lake Meade in Nevada. The Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant has been providing electricity for parts of New York and Canada for many years using the flow from the falls to turn giant turbines.

Lake Meade, created by the construction of the Hoover Dam, uses the water from the lake as it runs through sluices in the dam to control the amount of flow. The water impacts upon the fan blades of the hydroelectric pumps, turning turbines to generate electricity. Although many people see a growing future in the use of hydropower as a clean renewable resource for electricity, it has been is use long before electricity became popular.

Consider the water wheels that were used in grain mills to turn the giant stones that ground grain into flour. The water wheels used hydropower from adjacent streams and creeks to provide the power and the water could be diverted away from the wheel when the grinding stones needed to be stopped.

Creating More Power With Less Water

A few variables control the generation process for using hydropower as an effective tool for generating electricity. The amount of water flow, how far it drops before hitting wheels that turn the generator affect the amount of power being produced. The climate also has a lot to do with their efficiency as streams may freeze in the winter or dry up during how summer months, making their generating potential useless.

Small hydropower generators can be built at home to supplement solar power in remote areas where access to moving water is available. The turbine does not have to be in the direct flow of the water to generate power. Water can be diverted into a pipe, which runs to the generator’s wheel and returned to the stream from which it originated.

Another type of hydropower generator has internal flanges to turn the generator’s turbines. Similar to a water pump that requires power to turn the pump, internal flanges turn the generator using the water to create power. How much power is generated is determined by the flow and speed of the water, the size of the generator and the rate of flow…how much water is available to operate the generator.

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